[hist-analytic] A Scientist's Landscape

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Thu Jul 16 10:35:39 EDT 2009


In a message dated 7/16/2009 8:44:07 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,  
danny.frederick at tiscali.co.uk writes:
I am not entirely sure what you are  saying. 

--- never mind what I'm saying. To echo Grice: mind what I'm  meaning! :)

>But it seems to imply that a
>concept is categorial  only if it has instances 
 
Oops. R. B. Jones should help us here since he is the expert of  vacuity!
 
>(and perhaps is also
>fundamental in some way). 
 
Yes, 'fundament' is a good one. Even for continentals. Wasn't it Husserl  
who dreamed of a philosophy without presuppositions? grundlos, I think his 
word  was?
 
>And behind this lies a picture: ontological
>categories (which  exist out there in the real world) 
 
well, as R. B. Jones would say,
 
only an obble IZZES.
 
We wouldn't say that the 'whiteness' (QUALITY) of the object exists, or  
that the 'in-between' in which it finds itself with another obble (RELATION)  
exists, or that if there is another obble the the TWO exist (QUANTITY) and 
that  if it's picturesque, its picturesqueness exist (MANNER). 
 
It's the "tode ti" of Aristotle-Code-Grice that exists. The particular  
individual spatio-temporal continuant. 
 
"Individuals exist", as Strawson would say -- hence his choice of title for 
 the book, I hope.
 
>cause perceptions and
>perceptions 
 
Well, the obble (or thing really, _noumenon_ for Kant) causes the 'obble'  
as 'ob-jectum' . The noumenon or thing _threatens_ the subject, and the 
subject  replies by 'objectifying' it.
 
>cause concepts which reflect the ontological categories.

Yes. The passage from potching to cotching, to use Grice's colourful (which 
 you'll dub 'idiotic') terminology is tricky at its best. Many things that 
we  perceive (that p), I cannot claim that we form a concept (I think that 
p) -- and  in one list of 'mandatory functions', Grice includes cognition 
(but not  perception!). So there!
 
* * * * * NOW FOR THE INTERESTING PART * * * * hopefully to motivate  him.

>I work with a different picture: inherited theories contain  categories 
 
Well, the idea of a 'concept' as a notion qua 'conceptual role' or ROLE it  
plays in a theory did appeal Grice the functionalist. It's the 
'observational'  versus 'theoretical' here at play.
 
>which
>shape perceptions and structure the world as experienced. 
 
I see. Piagetianism, neo-Kantianism and Popperianism at its best.
 
This may relate, in a less continental way, to Hanson (a favourite with  
Bayne) and his 'theory-laden observation'. I buy that (on Thursdays). 
 
>Further, inherited
>theories can be criticised, modified or  abandoned (so long as something is
>put in their place). 
 
I guess you'll think a 'pirot' without a theory becomes an 'ex-pirot'. I'm  
not so sure. My tutor, Ezequiel de Olaso, was a sceptic and died as one! I 
never  see him hold _ANY_ belief (his grading was pretty categoryless, too, 
if you axe  (sic) me.
 
>Consequently, whether the categories of any theory have
>(real)  instances is something we can never know.

I see. I'm not sure about the instantiation, but I like that. Will think  
about it.
 
---

>The picture you suggest is Aristotelian: forms migrate from things into  
our
>sense organs. My picture is Popperian; that is, it is Kantian insofar  as 
the
>forms are contributed by the subject, 
 
transcendental, not empirical? Don't think so. That's where it's more like  
_neo-_Kantian rather than Kantian proper, right?
 
>but it is fallibilist in that the
>forms can lead us astray but  can be modified by us. The Popperian picture
>was developed to take  account, initially, of scientific practice, and,
>later, of the  discoveries since Aristotle's time, in empirical psychology,
>neuroscience  and the history of science.

Interesting to check the Kant-Popper polemic and to focus on 'the  
discoveries' since KANT's time. 

>What was the point of Strawson's 'descriptive metaphysics'? He was  
exploring
>a conceptual scheme, viz., that of Oxford-educated common  sense, that had
>already been shown to be primitive and mistaken by  advances in the 
sciences,
>particularly physics. 
 
You are right here, as when Chapman says that linguistic botanising (of the 
 Play group) was congenial to the types in that it provided a leisurely 
activity  for the 'gentleman' and that left everything as it is.
 
>Surely, he would have produced something more relevant
>to  contemporary thought if he had tried to examine the challenges to  that
>scheme posed by scientific developments. 
 
I guess they'd say, "That's Cambridge forya!". I mean, they were STILL  
trying to digest Eddington's "Two Tables" -- in fact Grice, I see refers to 
this  as "Eddington's table" -- as he would NOT use 'table' in the plural here.
 
You should be surprised by Oxbridge enemities. In fact, as the biographer  
of Ayer notes (cited by Chapman) and this may relate to Anscombe NOT being  
quoted -- the fact that something was POPULAR in Cam (as Witters was -- the  
mimeo of Anscombe, Chapman notes, circulated in Oxford in the 1940s,  
apparently?) is enough of a trigger NOT to be considered proper for Oxonian  
dialectics.
 
---
 
>But he just takes it for granted
>that the scheme he is  describing is permanent and unhchangeable
>('Individuals,' p.10). 
 
As far as his brain is concerned? I mean, it takes _Generations_ to accept  
_things_. Consider 'flows of impressions' don't threaten us, objects do. 
But  then, the Allies were bombing Hiroshima with "atomic" things -- isn't a 
wavicle  'threatening'?
 
Strawson, and you'll take it with a pinch of salt here, describes himself  
proudly as a 'petit-bourgeois' in his "Intellectual Autobiography" -- 
Library  Living Philosophers, and as Chapman notes, recall that for the Lit. Hum. 
Oxon  'NO LIVING PHILOSOPHER' was included in the syllabus --.
 
>I am not saying his book is worthless. It is not: I
>have read it  several times and learned a lot from it. But it is curiously
>detached  from the common human enterprise of knowledge. He is like the  
loner
>sitting in a side room while the party goes on in the main room  next door.
 
-- Oddly this reminds me of Borges. When he was in Oxford (1971) there was  
a party at the Randolph in his honour. Murdoch, etc, were in attendance -- 
and  the party was going on mainly in the groundfloor -- the piano room 
which I love  --. Yet, Borges hisself spent most
of his time in the 'next' room (upstairs, actually, to add insult to  
injury) with a young Fellow of Corpus -- discussing the metrics of the Beowulf  
-- Harmon -- Faber, Anglo-Saxon Verse)
             recollected in Woodfield, "The man in the mirror".
 
Strawson provoked Quine with "A logician's landscape". I'll provoke D. F.,  
in a good way, I hope, with _my_ header to this post!
 
Cheers,
 
J. L. Speranza
 
 
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